I see that a few of my fellow bloggers [Dimitri Rotov, Sean Dail, and Touch the Elbow] are pleased to have received their Simon and Schuster package which includes new titles about Lincoln, Taney, and the War of 1812. I expect to find my package at the front door later this afternoon. Let’s admit that there is something flattering about being singled out by a major publisher, though as Sean Dail explains it is clearly in their interest to take advantage of the blogosphere. As I see it the publisher probably doesn’t need to worry about any negative assessments of their books; it may be enough that the book is referenced and linked to by others.
It does, however, raise some interesting questions about our responsibility in providing analytical or critical reviews of these texts – if we choose to review them at all. Let’s face it, the value of three new hardback books is somewhere around $90 and one may be tempted to be more praiseworthy given the possibility of additional preview copies. I’ve received a number of preview copies and make it clear to the publisher that the book will receive a critical assessment. In the case of David Eicher’s new book I wrote a very negative review since I thought it was an overall disappointment. I wouldn’t be surprised if I never see another book from Little Brown.